TV presenter Helen Skelton on wanting her young boys to be ‘feral'
TV presenter Helen Skelton has said she wants her two sons to have a love of the great outdoors and be “that kind of feral little thing that little boys are meant to be”.
The 36-year-old host of Countryfile is mother to Ernie, four, and two-year-old Louis, her children with professional rugby player husband Richie Myler.
Skelton is a former Blue Peter presenter whose TV career has taken her to far-flung locations around the world, including the Amazon rainforest and South Pole, and hopes her boys will follow in her footsteps.
Speaking shortly after leading an expedition to the summit of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to celebrate 25 years of the National Lottery, she told the PA news agency: “I think adventure and outdoors activities and challenging yourself in those kind of environments gives you a really good grounding.
“Before I became a parent I thought academic stuff would be important to me, but it’s not.
“I want my kids to love being outside, to get muddy, to get wet, to climb trees, to be that kind of feral little thing that little boys are meant to be.”
While Skelton, who presents the BBC’s swimming coverage, wants her children to be able to enjoy the great outdoors, she still wants them to be comfortable with the latest technology.
She revealed she will not be following the lead of some parents and banning them from screen time.
She said: “I think it’s totally unrealistic to expect kids not to have an iPad or a phone or a tablet. There’s no point saying kids are never going to have that.
“Also, if I denied my kids any access to technology, they’d be the odd ones in the classroom who couldn’t engage with their peers. So you can’t do that.”
For her latest adventure, Skelton hiked to the summit of Ben Nevis in Scotland to celebrate The National Lottery’s 25th birthday.
She led a group of youngsters from the PEEK project, based in Glasgow’s East End, which has received over £1 million of National Lottery funding.
The group reached the summit after five hours of walking in “brutal” conditions.
“It was horrific,” Skelton said. “I say this as someone who has been to the South Pole. At one point the rain was hitting my face so hard, I couldn’t even open my eyes. That’s how brutal it was.”
Despite the challenging weather, Skelton said she enjoyed the experience, adding: “It was exhausting – but brilliant.”
The climb marks the launch of The National Lottery’s Guide to 25 Amazing Outdoor Adventures, which includes a variety of outdoor locations to visit, all of which have been funded by the Lottery over the last 25 years.